"R.I.P.D." isn’t so much a summer blockbuster as it is an exercise in what not to do when given a $130 million budget. Original Films and Dark Horse Entertainment use their financial freedom about as intelligently as an Atlantic City high school dropout that suddenly wins it big on the penny slots. With its pointless 3D presentation, dated special effects, and underused cast, “R.I.P.D.” will forever be known as a haphazardly recycled “Men In Black” rip-off worse than the forgettable “M.I.B. 3”.
Based on Peter M. Lenkov’s comic book series, “R.I.P.D.” attempts to explain what happens to crooked cops after they get double crossed by their partner. Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is said crooked cop and Hayes (Kevin Bacon) is the character’s double-crossing partner that ends up blasting him into the after life. Nick was a crack detective for the Boston PD for over 15 years, and as such, is plucked from his Judgment Day to join the ranks of the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). Nick learns that this department is where the best dead police officers from all of history fight escaped souls from Hell called Dead-os—I’m not joking— back on Earth.
With the prospect of being able to return to his Boston hometown and possibly reunite with his lost love Julia (Stephanie Szostak) Nick immediately agrees to join. As a rookie in the department, however, he is teamed up with a Cowboy era Lawman named Roy (Jeff Bridges) to learn the ropes—no pun intended. Let the buddy cop bonding begin! Right?
Wrong. While individually Reynolds and Bridges are passable on screen, together they have about as much chemistry as an old Chinese guy and a super hot swimsuit model. That’s actually not a joke. Both Nick and Roy have on Earth alter egos in the form of James Hong and Marisa Miller.
Damning the film even more is Reynolds’ inability to capture the screen like a leading man should. Roy and his “True Grit” style dialect, which sounds a lot like he just got punched in the mouth, is responsible for breathing life into each scene. This shouldn’t happen. In “Men In Black,” Will Smith’s character constantly shined brighter than Tommy Lee Jones. That’s not saying Tommy Lee Jones wasn’t great in his role, it’s just that Will Smith was fully embodying his star image. Reynolds, sadly, isn’t a Hollywood star. He’s Van Wilder. Studios should have learned their lesson about the actor after “The Green Lantern” bombed. Perhaps this film will finally do the trick.
There comes a moment, very early on in the movie, when a runaway Dead-o—I still can’t get over how stupid this name is—flicks off the fast pursuing Nick and Roy before barreling down a crowded Boston street. I cannot help but think that the runaway monster wasn’t flicking off Roy and Nick, he was actually giving the finger to me—the viewer—for being gullible enough to watch the film. Or maybe he was giving a good ol’ f-you to all of the normally great actors (Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon) for agreeing to be in this flick.
By David Morris